WHAT TO FOCUS ON FOR A SUCCESSFUL OPEN SEASON

Photo Courtesy of: Samantha Chin

Photo Courtesy of: Samantha Chin

The Open is fast approaching. We are [five] weeks away from the announcement of the first workout. This is also about that time when we may start to panic: am I ready? Did I spend enough time working on this skill or that lift? Am I strong enough? What do I need to be able to do to feel successful in the Open?

Good news: we have some answers for you. Not all, because, contrary to popular belief, we don’t know everything. But we do have some pretty good insight and analysis on what you can expect to see in the Open. You [have started to] see some past Open workouts in our regular class programming beginning in January (recall from our last post that we will run an Open workout every Friday during all classes until the Open begins).

Here’s the deal. We’ve done the dirty work for you. We’ve gone back over every Open workout that has ever come out - it began in 2011 – and tried to take some of the guesswork out of what you should focus on. This is pretty nerdy, we’re not going to lie, but we know some of you can really benefit from this information and others may just find it interesting. In our analysis we’ve found some trends.

With the exception of 2011, there are 5 workouts, one released each week. These workouts are varied (wouldn’t be CrossFit if they didn’t) but there are some similarities:

  1. Every year since the 2011, there has been ONE retested workout from a previous year. It almost guarantees that we will see one of [2017’s] workouts again this year (which one do you NOT want to see?).

  2. There have ALWAYS been wallballs and thrusters in the Open. #Sorrynotsorry! We know they’re not a fan favorite but now you know why we do them so much.

  3. In the RX’d division, there have always been chest-to-bar (C2B) pull-ups and toes-to-bar (TTB). ZERO exceptions. They opt for C2B because it’s an easier standard to set for judging purposes.

    1. In scaled division, which was introduced in 2015, we still see C2B however athletes are permitted jumping C2B (with specific standards). TTB becoming hanging knee raises.

  4. Also in the RX’d division, there have always been muscle ups. There were ring muscle ups up until last year when bar muscle ups were introduced.

  5. You can expect all the regular barbell movements: snatching, cleaning or clean and jerk, shoulder-to-overhead (S2OH), overhead squats (OHS), thrusters, and deadlifts. Weights for these movements vary widely, something we’ll discuss a little later in this post.

  6. Double unders have always appeared in one way or another. The smallest sets we’ve seen are 30 and the largest are 100.

    1. Fun fact: Until 2015, double unders were always paired in some way with muscle ups and wallballs. Apparently a worthwhile combination…

Now for some quick statistics:

  1. The average time for the workouts is roughly 11.5 minutes. The range is 5-20 minutes.

    1. This number has been skewed the past three years, since the “buy yourself more time” workouts have been introduced (i.e. if you complete a set amount of work under a given amount of time, you get more time to complete more work. Lucky you).

  2. The average weight that athletes have to move has increased over the years. Last year, on average and over a variety of movements (consider the discrepancy in weight between a deadlift and a power snatch), men had to move 207 pounds and women 137 pounds. This is quite the jump from 2011, when the average weight moved for men was 127 and women was 87. Good work people, we’ve gotten stronger.

  3. The range of weight is wide. You can always expect a workout with a 95/65 prescription and even a 75/55 prescription. However, barbells have gotten as heavy as a 365 pound deadlift and a 315 pound squat clean (both for reps!) for men and a 225 pound deadlift and 205 pound squat clean for women.

  4. The rep range is also quite wide. Not counting the 1RM clean and jerk from 2015, the lowest set we see is 3 ranging all the way to the 150 wallballs from the muscle up workout from 2012 and 2013. However, the average set is 15-20 reps.
    Finally, some unique things about the Open workout history:

  5. There has only ever been one “1RM event” in the Open – 15.1b had athletes establish a 1RM clean and jerk following a 9 minute AMRAP. Maybe we see this again?

  6. Box jumps had been a favorite until 2016, when they were written out of the program. We saw the box used in the form of burpee box jump overs - a new movement - in 2017. Will we see regular box jumps return in 2018?

  7. Handstand push-ups (HSPUs) were first introduced in 2015 and we saw them again in 2016. We saw them again in 2017 when 16.4 was retested with a chipper-style workout that finished with a set of 55 HSPUs!

  8. Rowing was first introduced in 2014 to join the double unders as a monostructural component. It has been used every year since.

    1. Side note: We will likely never see running or biking in the Open. They have to make the workouts doable for athletes around the world at different times of year and for those who perhaps don’t even belong to an affiliate. Rowing ergs are easy to find. Assault bikes, not so much…yet.

  9. Burpees are always either to a target six inches above your standing reach or over the bar. This guards against sub-par adherence to movement standards.

  10. A new movement has been introduced each year since 2014. What might we see this year

    1. 2014 – rowing

    2. 2015 – HSPUs

    3. 2016 – bar muscle ups and overhead walking lunges

    4. 2017 - Dumbbells galore! The DB snatch, DB front rack walking lunge, DB power cleans were all introduced and we can expect to see DBs again in 2018. We were also introduced to the burpee box jump over in the Open.

  11. We have never seen these movements in the Open:

    1. Rope climbs

    2. D-balls

    3. Pistol squats

    4. Sumo deadlift high pulls

    5. Strict movements of any kind (unless you count the push-ups of 2011)

    6. Handstand walking

    7. Front squats (in isolation)

The likelihood of any of those movements being introduced varies. Odds for a sumo deadlift high pull are much, much higher than a rope climb.

However, it’s not so much the unknown that we should take away from this post. It’s the known, it’s the “what I can work on now to best prepare myself for February” and here’s our bottom line and what you’ll see more of in class as we get closer and closer to February 23rd:

  1. RX’d athletes will need to have C2B pull-ups, TTB and muscle ups in some capacity. Scaled or Masters athletes may still need these in some form or at least pull-ups and hanging knee raises.

  2. Focus on light to moderate weight, higher volume (12-25 rep range) barbell movements, box jumps, wallballs and burpees.

  3. Continue to focus on technique in the weightlifting movements. It will get you further in the Open than having a huge 1-rep max lift. Repeat-ability and consistency is key.

  4. Dig in on those workouts that are in that 8-14 minute range. This is going to be the sweet spot during the Open.

  5. Don’t be afraid to ask your coaches questions on what else you can be doing to prepare!

Hopefully, this helped shine some light on what can find us some success in the Open. Next week, we will discuss how to use this information to develop your strategy for the Open. How do you choose which division to participate in? What are the standards for movement? What kind of expectations should you set? All this and more next week!

-Coach Caitlin

HOW KINGFIELD DOES THE OPEN

Photo Courtesy of: Samantha Chin

Photo Courtesy of: Samantha Chin

Last week, we introduced the Open and gave you a few reasons why you may consider participating in it this year (check out the blog post below). This week, we’ll go over logistics of the actual event and what our class training schedule will look like leading up to the Open here at Kingfield.

[Two years ago,] we joined the CrossFit world in participating in what has become known as "Friday Night Lights." No, we’re not referring to the popular television series involving a high school football team. However, the atmosphere and the excitement do parallel that of the big game.

We were determined to ramp up the participation in the Open, so we decided to dedicate our Friday night 7 p.m. class to performing the workout. We had increasing attendance each week, with the final week seeing 30 athletes through the grueling test of thrusters and burpees over the bar. Our goal is to continue that enthusiasm this year by dedicating more time and attention to the Open both in our programming and in our schedule.

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Last year, we started running heats around 5:30 p.m. and taking as much time as needed to get everyone who signed up through the workout. We adjusted week to week based on what the workouts required and how many athletes wanted to participate. The nice thing about how we run the Open, is that we don’t require you to sign up from the beginning to participate. If you come watch one week and then the next week you decide you want to try it out, you can! You just have to make sure you submit your preferred heat times so we can get you on the schedule.

As we continue to evolve with the demands of these workouts and the participation of you, our members, year-to-year, we have yet another change to make this year. This year, for the first time ever, we will be running the Open workouts in all classes on Fridays (5:15 & 6:10am, 12pm) along with Friday Night Lights.

Come February 23rd, if you attend class on Friday, you will be doing the 2018 CrossFit Open workout. There was an overwhelming amount of feedback last year, that members wanted an opportunity to perform the test without having to come in on a Friday night - so we wanted to honor those requests.  This does, however, come with a caveat:

If you want to have your workout scored and judged -- those of you from last year perhaps remember the benefit of having someone right there in your corner, helping you through the workout -- you MUST sign up for Friday night heat times. There will be NO judges available in the morning or noon sessions.

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Prior to the end of February you can expect a similar format to our Friday classes. While our schedule will remain the same, we will start to implement past Open workouts on Fridays. While our current structure has us learning and refining a skill and then conditioning, these Open prep Fridays will give your coaches a chance to discuss strategy, run you through an appropriate warm-up and go over more complex skills (i.e. muscle ups, C2B pull-ups, etc.) if they are present in the workout.

The final thing we want to point out is what you should be paying attention to as we start into our Open prep in January. First, notice the structure of the workouts: What are the dominant movements (gymnastics, barbell, light, heavy, etc.)? What is the style (i.e. AMRAP, for time, EMOM, etc.)? How long are they? The second thing to really pay attention to is the warm-up: if you’re just warming up for a metcon, what do you focus on? In a typical class, we have a designated warm-up and then a chunk of time to continue to get warm before we go hard. And third, pay attention to the strategy lessons. Your coaches have over 20 years of experience in the Open between them. They’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, where to pick your battles, where to rest and where to push. They’re goldmines of information. There are no bad questions, so don’t be afraid to ask them!

Stay tuned [later this week] when we discuss what you should focus on to be successful in the Open and how we plan to help you along the way!

-Coach Caitlin


WHAT IS THE OPEN? (Recycled from our 2017 informational posts on the Open)

Photo: Samantha Chin

Photo: Samantha Chin

Every year since 2011, CrossFit athletes around the world have participated in the Open. The Open acts as the first step in a now three-step process to compete in the CrossFit Games. This year, will bring us all new tests of fitness and perhaps some retests. Will you give the Open a try in 2018? We have a few reasons why we think you should!

First, the Open puts the emphasis on community. We come together on a Friday night and do a predetermined workout... but it’s not just us – it’s gyms around the world. This sense of community extends beyond our walls. For five weeks, we are all in it together.

On a smaller scale within our community, we are there for each other. There is something special about having your friends cheer you through a particularly difficult workout. We’ve all been in that place where we’ve wanted to mail it in, cash out and cut our losses. During the Open, we find strength and motivation from others more than ever before.

Second, the Open provides us structure. We can use this time every year as a measure of our own improvements. It is predictable in its timing (not so much in it’s tests) and its format: one workout per week for 5 weeks starting the last week of February through the month of March [this year it is Feb. 23 - Mar. 23]. For some, the Open is their gateway to Regionals and ultimately the Games. These are the elites in the “sport” of CrossFit.

For most of us, the Open gives us a gauge to see our personal development year to year. They offer scaled, RX’d, masters and teens options so no matter where you’re at in your "CrossFit career," you can participate, and It helps us set goals for our training year ahead. One of the best things about CrossFit is the seemingly infinite areas of improvement. Once we achieve one goal, the next is usually readily available to tackle. The Open will give us specific areas of fitness to improve upon over the upcoming year. Not knowing the workouts is also the ultimate test of our fitness and part of CrossFit’s objective: prepare for the unknown and unknowable. With the goal of developing well-rounded fitness, the Open tests what we do day in and day out at Kingfield.

Third and finally, the Open is a competition without needing to be competitive. Many times, our challenge to ourselves is to just show up for a workout. The Open functions the same way. All you have to do is show up to the gym and you do the workout just like you would any other day. You don’t have to commit the time or expenses of a competition weekend but you can experience the environment and adrenaline of one. There’s nothing more encouraging than having your fellow athletes and coaches by your side, pushing you through those final reps.

Ultimately, the Open does all the things we do every day at Kingfield: community, goal-setting and encouragement. We know many of you are very excited for the upcoming and unknown tests that [2018] will bring. We also know that many of you are unsure if you should participate. We’ll continue to offer up more information on our blog about the Open and you can always ask a coach if you have questions!

-Coach Caitlin


"Training and Competition: What’s the difference?"

When we think of other sports, i.e. football, basketball, hockey, or baseball, we can look at how practices are run and how games are played.  It starts with youth programs and goes all the way up to the professional level, but they have a practice schedule and game schedule.  During these practices, the coach may have their athlete’s work on systems, different plays, skills, and sometimes (depending on the level of competition) they will do video analysis of themselves or their opponents.  

Why do these sports programs do this?  The answer is simple; to sharpen their skills and to prepare for an upcoming game(s).  Looking back at weightlifting, how can someone sharpen their skills (lifts) before a competition?  Again, the answer is simple; training.  You don't typically see athletes of these other sports going into practices playing an all scrimmage/game against each other.  You will not get much better if you just do that.  Same concept holds true to weightlifting.  If you just show up everyday and try to max out your lifts without regard to your technique, you will probably not see a whole lot of results.  Do not get me wrong, some people respond better to training heavy and some people respond better to training with more volume.  

At Kingfield Barbell, we like to have a certain mindset both for training and for competition.  Today, we will dive into each of these mindsets and difference between training and competition and how I approach each.

 

Training:
One of my coaches, Kirksman Teo, shared this amazing quote with me and how I should approach training.  He said, “We want to approach training with the mindset of a hunter instead of a rabbit.”  His reasoning behind this was that a rabbit just chases things that it wants... but the hunter will take a step back and evaluate different ways to catch the rabbit.  It might not be that same day, but over time the hunter will be smart enough to catch the rabbit.  Too often I find myself chasing numbers in training, which was frustrating and resulted in me lacking confidence.  Once he told me this quote, I realized that I needed to stop chasing the numbers and let them come to me while I worked on improving my technique and trusting it once the weights got heavier.  

Not everyday is going to be a good day.  Some days we will feel great and some days we will feel like we got hit by semi truck.  Take a step back and iron out technique instead of forming bad habits. It has helped me in my training to pick 1-2 things to focus on for that given day.  I will spend about 10-15 minutes just moving with an empty bar to really work on those things.  For example, I may notice I am not pulling with my elbows up.  I will do a few sets of standing muscle snatches to really feel that I am pulling up on the bar.  I understand that time is a factor for a lot of people but it will help in the long run if you slow things down instead of forcing it.  

In training, we like to focus on technique and being as proficient as possible. No matter what cycle we have our athletes doing, the biggest emphasis will be technique. Our rule of thumb is technique over load, or quality over quantity. We want to have the mindset of getting better and being consistent everyday. Just because the weight might be lighter, this does not mean going through the motions.  We want to focus on the movement with 40 kilos on the bar the same we would if there was 140 kilos on the bar.

 

Competition:
Everyone approaches competition differently. Some go into competition light hearted, wanting to have a good time.  Some go in not wanting to talk to anyone and really trying to get into the zone.  For me, the light hearted approach has worked the best.  Yes, I still listen to music but I like to joke around and just laugh when I am warming up.  My thought process on this: happy thoughts equal happy lifting.  I know that sounds kind of corny but it is true.  The more positive I was, the better my performance was.  I tried a few competitions where I would go into being super serious and just focus on the weight.  I would not talk to anyone and rarely smiled...it did not end well. Whichever works for you, stick with that mindset going into competition.  I will say though, it is easier going into competition with the same mindset you approach training.  Think about it.  If you have a heavy day in training and you are having a great time with the other lifters in the back smiling/joking around and you hit a PR, it feels good!  Why would you want to flip a switch and put added pressure on yourself in competition?  Keeping things consistent (technique, preparation, routine, and mindset) will go a long way.

It never hurts to have a plan.  You and your coach should sit down together and come up with some numbers that you want to hit at the competition.  This conversation should be a 2-way street.  A little bit of give and take from both ends.  One thing that Kingfield Barbell will always say to our athletes is that you should aim to get at least one on the board.  After that, it is bonus lifts. If we get one on the board, that will give us an extra boost of confidence going into our 2nd and 3rd attempts.  Some competitions will require different game plans too.  You and another lifter might both be in the running to get 1st overall so now it becomes like a chess match. Or maybe you haven’t competed in a while and we want to encourage some confidence on the platform.  If this is the case, we will go with lighter weights and the goal will be to go 6/6.  But most importantly, have a plan.

Here are some experiences I have had with training versus competition.  I hope some of the mindsets we have talked about help and you take some time experimenting with both to find out which one works best for you.  Thank you!

- Coach Josh, Kingfield Barbell

Tony's Training Tip: Crossover Symmetry Pt. 2

Lets pick up where we left off a few weeks ago... Very rarely are injuries catastrophic. By that, I mean they seem to always happen very gradually. There is not much you can do to avoid tearing your rotator cuff in a car accident (catastrophic injury), but there is a lot that you can do to prevent tearing your rotator cuff doing pull-ups at the gym. Crossover Symmetry is a tool that you can and should employ to prevent injuries. Just because your shoulder feels good today, does not guarantee that it will be that way tomorrow. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to invest a few minutes a week to stay on top of things.

In addition to the exercises shared a few weeks ago, here are a few more that will “bullet-proof” your shoulders. Next week, we will throw together a quick video to show you just how simple this protocol truly is.

1. Reverse fly
This one is simple and very effective for warming up the scapulae. Set the attachment point to shoulder height and begin with arms fully extended, and shoulders pushed forward. Initiate the movement by pinching the shoulder blades together and sweeping the arms out to the side.

Starting position

Starting position

Finishing position

Finishing position

 

2. Scaption
For the scaption exercise, lower the attachment point to knee level and face away from the rig. Start with the hands down behind your hips, arms fully extended, and shoulders pinned down. Raise your arms to shoulder height and out to the side at roughly a 45 degree angle. Remember to move slowly and keep your shoulders pinned down. Shrugging the shoulders up while raising your hands is a common error.

Starting position

Starting position

Finishing position

Finishing position

 

3. Incline Plus
Again, the attachment point here is knee height and we face away from the rig. Initiate the press by keeping the shoulders pinned down. Once the arms are fully extended, you then actually want to push your shoulders into the resistance. Be sure to check out the video next week!

Starting position

Starting position

Finishing position

Finishing position

This may seem like a huge pain in the butt to do a few times a week, but I assure you its quick and easy! And your shoulders will thank you!

-Coach Tony

"Macros: What are they?"

Relatively speaking, I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this you’re pretty health-savvy. You likely wouldn’t have found this blog post if you weren’t in some way involved in taking steps towards improving or maintaining your health and fitness. So I’m going to make the assumption that you know that nutrition, or the nutrients we consume for energy and survival, is an important part of the equation. If you read my last post, you know that it might be the most important part of the equation when it comes to our health.

I’m not the only one who thinks this. We are pretty much inundated daily with information on what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, where to eat. So how can we make sense of all this information? You can take in as much advice and education as you can handle but at the end of the day, as I’ve said before, you have to figure out what works best for you. You are your own lab rat. Experiment away, my friends (disclaimer: within reason…).

The first experiment I would like you to consider is understanding macronutrients and paying attention to their role in your diet. Macronutrients, simply speaking, are the major organic (being built off a carbon backbone, not in the sense of "organic farming") building blocks of our food. They are major because, relative to their counterparts, micronutrients, because we need a lot of them to survive. You may have already heard of these bad boys, the common shorthand being “macros.” There are FOUR macronutrients. And we are going to touch briefly on all of them today.

Four? Yes, you heard me correctly. Carbohydrates, protein, fats (or lipids) and alcohol. Alcohol is kind of like the estranged brother. We talk about it in hushed voices and usually it’s not mentioned in colloquial discussions about macros. It’s bigger, more popular siblings tend to get all the headlines and attention when we discuss our diet. It’s also likely that we don’t discuss it because we know that it’s most likely not the best choice when fulfilling our caloric needs. However, it needs to be acknowledged and you need to be aware of it’s effect on your diet beyond often resulting in poorer food choices.

Before we get to alcohol though, I want to cover the more popular macros. We will start with protein. Proteins are comprised of amino acids, which are carbon-based molecules that have nitrogen attached to them (as well as other elements). It is this nitrogen that differentiates protein from its cousins, carbohydrate and fat. These structures are most famous for their role in the formation of the building blocks of muscle tissue, though they have other functions as well. As far as your health and performance goes, you need protein. It is the singular macronutrient that is most challenging to synthesize in the body (your body is pretty cool in that it can convert one type of macronutrient into another, but it’s energy expensive and our bodies are cheap and prefer the least expensive means to ends). To support activity, muscle mass and metabolism, our protein ingestion should be our main focus. Calorically speaking, one gram of protein is equal to 4 calories (4 cal/g). Recommendations vary based on activity level, body weight, and age (among other things), but generally consuming 0.7-1.0 g of protein per pound of body weight is ample intake for most people. This should come out to be roughly 30% of your total caloric intake in a given day. I would encourage you to figure out how much protein you’re getting and see if you currently fall in this range.

Second, after protein, we are going to touch on lipids. Lipids are the broad category that is filled by things like fatty acids (there are healthy and not so healthy ones), fats (think triglycerides), sterols (think cholesterol). For our purposes today and to simplify things in this post, I will be referring to fats as what we consume in our food. A later blog will touch on the differences between lipids and what you should pay attention to in your diet. Fats play, as we well know, a huge role in energy storage. But they also form cellular membranes and factor into hormonal pathways and metabolic function. They are critical in your diet. For too long, we have been told that “Fat will make us fat.” This is false and in fact, this message as actually played a major role in our rising obesity rates (more on that in another post). As the low-to-no fat diet has been preached, we’ve gotten fatter. Doesn’t add up. The moral of the story: fat is necessary. There are certainly good fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, even some saturated fats and cholesterol) and bad fats (transaturated - avoid like the plague) that you should be aware of but, fat should not be avoided. Even the maligned butter, eggs and animal fats can play a critical role in our diet, so long as they are well-sourced and high in quality (and they aren’t the entirety of your diet). As far as quantitative recommendations go, it varies widely from person to person and goal to goal. One gram of fat is equal to 9 calories, over double that of protein (and carbohydrate, as you’ll soon learn). We can create a rough estimate based off our total caloric intake by saying that roughly 30-40% of your total calories should come from fat. For example, if I eat 2,220 calories per day, 660-880 of those calories should come from fat. Using the ratio above, that means I should be consuming roughly 73-97 grams of fat per day. So do you think you're eating enough fat?

Third, we have good ol’ carbohydrates. In recent years, carbs have come to the forefront as the culprit for our current obesity epidemic and Western diseases - coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer, metabolic syndrome, etc. Paralleling the recommendation for “low fat” also came “high carb.” This is what I was taught in school and, as a result, what I did while in school. At the time, I was a runner and I know that this mantra is still preached to the endurance community. However, further education, mostly through reading, self-discovery and experimentation and now hard evidence from the some of the scientific community, taught me that carbs are not all they’re cracked up to be. Now don’t get me wrong, they are important. In fact, our brain and heart can only function off of glucose, the simple sugar that is primarily the result of the breakdown of the carbohydrate we ingest. However, fun fact, our bodies are actually capable of converting things like fat and even protein into glucose when pressed. Which means that ingestion does not need to be through the roof! If you are training for something, working out at high intensities or are on your feet a lot in your job, you certainly will have higher carbohydrate needs than those who are inactive or who sit most of their day. Carbs are the number one variable to change when trying to achieve weight loss goals. There is a ton of information surrounding this macronutrient - type, timing, starch versus sugar, refined versus unrefined, glycemic index, etc. - and I hope to get to all of it in time. For today, let’s talk recommended intake so you can review your own diet. First, 1 gram of carbohydrate, like protein, is 4 calories. From our protein and fat sections from above, we already know that 30% of our daily intake is coming from protein and 30-40% from fat. That leaves us 30-40% from carbohydrate, depending on your fat consumption. Like fat, the needs vary widely from person to person and goal to goal. However, I would encourage you to assess your current diet and see if you meet these recommendations.

 

Here is an overall example of our macronutrient breakdown for a 165 pound person:

Protein = 165 pounds * 1 gram protein/pound body weight = 165 g protein per day (660 cals)

Fat = [2200 total cals * .3] = 660 calories of fat; divide by 9 cals/g = 73 g fat per day (660 cals)

Carbs = 2200 total cals - [660 cals P + 660 cals F] = 880 cals from C; divide by 4 cals/g = 220 g carbs per day

Use these formulas and plug your own weight in. I used an arbitrary daily caloric intake - there are more sophisticated ways to determine how much you should be consuming on a daily basis.

Now, back to alcohol. Besides impairing our better judgement, from a nutritional standpoint, alcohol is expensive. One gram of alcohol is 7 calories, nestling it right between carbs/protein and fat as far as it’s caloric cost. That’s nice to know but unless you’re drinking moonshine (more power to you), you can’t just weigh out your drink, divide and get the calorie content. Beer, wine, and booze all have other things mixed into them. This serves to add flavor, bring the alcohol content down to a manageable (for moderate intakes) level and to increase production volume. Guess what macro is added in? Carbs. Sometimes a little fat - think Bailey’s Irish Cream - but mostly carbohydrate. However, most beverages don’t list their nutrition facts. For the most part, we’re in the dark when it comes to how alcohol factors into our nice equations shown above. Easiest way to navigate this? Don’t drink. You’re probably better off. However, enjoying an adult beverage or two in a social setting is not a terrible thing to do. Note: the sentence reads “an adult beverage or two” and “in a social setting.” These are really good guidelines for your consumption. Limit yourself to one or two drinks and try to only do so for a special occasion or event. It’s a slippery slope to have booze on hand at home and use it to “wind down” after work. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, I’m just saying it can be a slippery slope. Use your best judgement, and if you don’t trust your judgement, enlist a friend or coach to help you.

Whether we count them or not, all four macronutrients factor into our diet. Your consumption of them plays heavily into your overall health, fitness and mental well-being. Try out these recommendations, pay attention to what you’re eating. Decide if you need to make some changes and if you’re unsure, let me know. Sometimes having someone else guide you is easier than doing it all on your own.

Until next time,
-Coach Caitlin

Once Upon a Time: How exercise is not the only part of the fitness equation

It is true: you cannot out-train a bad diet. This week we’re going to talk about the most common pitfall that I see as a coach when people are trying to achieve their goals.

Recall from my last post that first that we must make sure that our goals, reality and expectations of ourselves are aligned. From here on, we will proceed assuming that you’ve gone through that exercise of setting realistic, albeit challenging, goals. If you still need help with that, don’t hesitate to contact one of your coaches and schedule a time to chat about what direction you want to go. 

Returning to the topic at hand, I will share with you a common story I’ve seen in my years working in fitness, specifically in CrossFit. In my very biased opinion, CrossFit (when applied correctly) is the most effective general exercise program (we refer to this as general physical preparedness, or GPP) ever to come down the fitness pipeline. Bold statement, I know, but I believe it to be true. What happens as a result of this is that people start CrossFit and see immediate, dare I say near instantaneous, improvements in their strength, their bodies and even in their minds. They become stronger, tougher, and they feel accomplished. They think they’ve found the magic pill, the silver bullet that every other infomercial in the world is trying to sell you. They think it’s the training program alone. They are wrong.

So, continuing the story, this CrossFit newbie comes in 4-5 days a week, sees weekly improvements in their lifts, they’re slowly but surely starting to RX more workouts, they’re seeing more definition in their legs and arms and even a hint of a six-pack is starting to peek out. They think it’s the training program alone. And now, because they think they’re working harder and getting fitter, they “treat” themselves more often, going out for wings, pizza, beer and ice cream more than they have in the past few years. They keep PRing. They keep looking better. They think it’s the training program alone. They are wrong.

Eventually, and everyone is different so no one can say for sure when this will happen, they will plateau. Their strength will level off, conditioning with taper, and their body will actually start to look puffy or soft again. But I didn’t change anything! Well, you did. You made the error of believing that training is the key to health, fitness and a sexy body. You thought your new-fangled training regimen made all the difference. And then you changed your diet. Don’t get me wrong, an effective training program certainly helps and, in fact, it serves as a major motivator but the key, the crux, the MOST IMPORTANT PART is nutrition.

That’s the common story. I’m sure there are a few of you reading this thinking, “Oh shit, that’s me.” At the same time, I’m sure there are a few of you thinking, “Hell no, I did not fall off the nutritional deep end. I eat right! But I’m plateauing anyways. What do you have to say to that, Caitlin? Huh? Huh?” First, I have an answer for you. For today, I’m going to give you the short answer. Over the coming weeks, we will expand upon this short answer to dive more deeply into the elements that might be plaguing your health and fitness goals.

Back to your story: It doesn’t matter what you did. Paleo, Whole30, macros, keto, vegetarian - it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you took the time to pay attention to how you are fueling your body and that you were consistent about it. There are many facets to nutrition, some well-known, some not so well-known. Whenever I talk with someone about nutrition, I relate it to training. Most of us know that the PR train we ride for the first 6-8 months of any sport, program or training regimen slows down and that if we don’t do something to rejuvenate it, we’re going to end up sputtering to a halt. So we switch it up (see my post a few weeks ago about shaking up your training schedule) and stick to something revamped and again, see results. In CrossFit, we do this for you. We program to specifically tax your musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory system differently so that you're constantly able to adapt consistently. Over time, you will eventually find what works best. What your body adapts to and likes. Where it feels comfortable. Nutrition is no different. What worked for you at one point in your life may not work for you in the same way the second time around. We have to make subtle (or sometimes, not so subtle) adjustments to stay on track. What works for one person will NOT work for the next person. It’s incredibly individual and yet simple all at the same time. The approach is individual but the simple part is consistency.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll outline some of these individual approaches (from a generic standpoint). You’ll hear words and phrases you might recognize, like macros, paleo, anti-inflammatory, and you’ll hear about processes and interactions that you may not know as much about as you’d like, like glucose-insulin-glucagon relationship, ketosis and the gut-mind connection. With a better understanding of these, we can begin to identify what approach might be best for you and which will have the most profound effect as you march towards your goals.

I am looking forward to opening up the dialogue about food and how it relates to health, fitness and performance. If any of you would like to talk more specifically about your goals and how I might be able to help, shoot me an email or grab me at the gym!

-Coach Caitlin  

Memorial Day Murph: "What to Expect"

While there’s rain in the forecast right now, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for some nice weather on Monday while we’re out in force for Memorial Day MurphIf you haven’t yet heard, we’ll be running three heats of the workout starting at 8:50am on Monday, May 29th. “Murph” or “Body Armor” is one of the most famous CrossFit workouts, certainly the most famous Hero workout. If you want know a little more about the man behind the workout, watch the movie Lone Survivor or click here to read what we had to say about him. As if you need a reminder, the workout is as follows:

1 mile run

100 pull-ups

200 push-ups

300 air squats

1 mile run

 

Partition the reps as desired. If you have a weighted vest or body armor, wear it.

What we’re going to cover today is:
1) The Process - how things will run on Monday
2) The Approach - common ways to attack the workout
3) The Aftermath - how you will feel immediately after and what you can do in the minutes and days after to get back in your groove sooner.

The Process:
On Monday, we will run three heats of the workout - 8:50am, 9:50am and 10:50am. There will be a 70 minute time cap on
each heat. A better way to say this is, if you are still in the gym at the 60 minute mark (when the heat after yours starts), we will send you out on the second mile. We have different variations of the workout that can be done - partner, 30 minute AMRAP or full - and if you haven’t yet decided which one is best for you, keep reading. We’ll get to that in the Approach section below.

The heat assignments are listed below. If you do not see your name, it is because you didn’t let us know you’d be coming. You can still come in and do the workout - we would love to have you! We will fit you into a heat accordingly.

 

Please arrive at least 20 minutes early to your scheduled heat time. We will be at the gym by 8-8:15am so you can show up any time after then. Warm-ups will be very general and more will be spent reiterating movement standards and figuring out where each athlete will be doing their thing. Each heat will have a group going in BOTH the main CrossFit room and the turf room. We have a few rules about this:

  1. Pull-ups - we will have kipping/strict, jumping or ring rows as options. Once you complete your pull-ups, whether you’re doing them straight through or doing small sets, you MUST move away from the rig to do your push-ups and air squats. This will be crowded unlike any workout you’ve ever done; we need to be courteous of those around us.

  2. Push-ups - your chest must touch the floor on each repetition but hands DO NOT need to release from the ground. These are the most challenging part of the workout - break them up from the beginning and stay tight!

  3. Air squats - go to your full depth and stand all the way up! These are the easiest part of the workout but you will feel them the most in subsequent days. Be consistent, do them right!

  4. DO NOT deviate from the run route (see map below). We will have the 1 mile course marked at each corner and will even have a some people at certain intersections to ensure safe crossing.

The "Murph" Mile - the route starts along the yellow arrows by the star. Athletes will run south down the alley towards Lake St. and turn right. Cross Garfield Ave and turn right to head north on Lyndale. The next turn will be another right on 28th St. Continue to Harriet, turn right and head south. The arrows turn to orange because of some overlap, as athletes will run along Lake to GARFIELD and head north to finish the mile. The final right turn will be the north alleyway loop to return to the gym.

The Approach:
No matter how you slice it, “Murph” is a daunting workout. It is not about speed; it is about consistency. If you go out too fast, you will finish slow. This a marathon CrossFit workout: start conservatively and push towards the end if you have anything left in the tank.

Our options for performing the workout are as follows:

  1. Full Murph - you will complete the entire workout, splitting up the work in the gym how you like (more on that in a second), by yourself. Some may wear a weighted vest if coaches agree.

  2. 30 minute AMRAP Murph - you will run both miles at the start and end, but we will limit the middle work portion to 30 minutes max. This is a good option if you have just started CrossFit in the past couple months, if you haven’t exercised (moderately) for longer than 45 minutes straight in the past couple months, or if you really struggle with one of the movements. By cutting it off at 30 minutes, you are moderating the volume, which is a smart thing to do, especially if you’re new.

  3. Partner Murph - an alternative volume modification. You AND your partner will run both miles but you will share the work in the middle. You may share those reps however you like, until it is all completed.

  4. Friends and family - if you are bringing someone who has never done CrossFit before, they will likely do a combo of b) and c). We want to challenge these new folks but we don’t want to turn them off completely. Your coaches will help them figure out which option is best for them.

Some strategies for completing the work in the gym are listed below. Keep in mind that what works for someone else may not be the best approach for you. We’ve talked a lot in recent weeks about focusing on what you’re doing and letting the rest fall away. Take that to heart while you’re in the middle of Murph - there will be A LOT going on. The only thing you need to focus on is you.

The Aftermath:
A lot of you will be doing this for the first time. We aren’t going to lie to you - you will be sore. There is more volume in this single workout than you probably accumulate in three days of regular CrossFit classes.

This is not meant to scare you. We take on this challenge for both personal significance and for something bigger than any of us. The workout is meant to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom, our friends, our family and the great privilege we have to take care of ourselves through fitness. If you think on that for a minute when things get tough, your personal suffering in the workout suddenly seems like small potatoes. On a more personal level, this is a benchmark and a tough one at that. It is - believe it or not - fun to come back to it every year and see how much you’ve improved. Plus, the energy is unreal when we have 30 people working out at the same time!

Immediately after, get water and try to keep moving. If you can go walk a lap or hop on a rower, do that for 5-10 minutes. It might feel like the last thing you want to do but if you lay on the floor for 10 minutes, you’ll start to stiffen up soon. After you do a little flush out, do some movement and stretch. Pigeon pose, couch stretch, hanging out in the bottom of a squat (yep, I said it!) are all good things to do. Ask a coach if you need some more creative ideas. Do NOT sit down right away! Finally, get some good protein and carbs in your system. Yes, we will be eating around noon but if you’re in the earlier heats you might want to bring a protein shake, banana or something else to nibble on while the other heats go.

*A side note on nutrition: Just because you did a really long workout does not entitle you to eat heaps and gobs of bad foods. For the most part, we’ll have some pretty solid choices available to eat but don’t fall into the trap of the post-workout binge. Just my two cents.

In the days following “Murph,” MOVE! We will program accordingly so that you can still come in, move and take it easy if you’re more sore. This might mean scaling workouts - so what? Better for you to move and push that fluid around than to sit out because you can’t go RX’d or go as fast or heavy as usual. You also don’t have to move in the gym. Get out on a walk or a bike ride the day after. Do some body-weight movement at home, go to a yoga class or do ROMWOD. Drink water and plenty of it!

The less you move, the crappier you eat and the less you drink, the worse you will feel and the longer your recovery will be. Those are all things you can control and by doing so, you can get back to your regular routine sooner!

I’ll be posting on Monday as well about a few quick nutrition and recovery tidbits as an intro to our holistic approach to fitness. Stay tuned for that - there may just be a few things you can start doing now that will make a big difference later.

We’re excited to see you on Monday! And for the record, we would recommend resting on Sunday ;) Happy sweating!

-Coach Caitlin